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10 Excellent Ways To Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day | March 5th

Kate William

10 min read

“Oh, I can’t believe I have to work today as well.”

“If only there were no concept of bills, I’d leave this job in a heartbeat.”

“I never thought I would grow up to be someone who would dread hitting the bed on a Sunday evening”

Many of us have heard different versions of these statements, either mouthed by us or by some of our friends. 

Let’s say we were to ask our immediate circle about how they love their work environment and the office. 

What do you think they’d reply?

Many of their points would circle around how the office’s culture is pathetic. The culture in an office could mean so many things, starting from how an employee who is going through a tough family issue is treated to how an intern is respected. All of this boils down to being appreciated for each employee’s value to the table. So this employee appreciation day that falls on March 5th this year, let’s give you some excellent ways to reward your employees. 

A company that doesn’t treat its employees fairly will never achieve the kind of success that it envisions. Making your employees feel appreciated for everything that they do for your organization should also be ingrained in your culture. 

Fact check: Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated on the first Friday of every March to acknowledge employees’ contribution. 

Why is Employee Appreciation Day Important?

Because happy employees equal happy customers – the day every company realizes this is the day the company evolves. Employee Appreciation Day is a day to recognize employees and celebrate the impact they bring to the organization. It is a time for recognition and rewards, something that they have always deserved. 

Formal recognition is always important, appreciation is something that can be easily done at any time by anyone, and that too for anyone. Even on their worst day, an employee should not feel as if they would be judged based on this for the rest of their time at the company. 

10 Excellent Ways To Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

1. Plan a trip

Organize a trip with all your employees on Employee Appreciation Day. Do not decide a venue arbitrarily, ensure that you involve the employees also in this decision. 

It will certainly be a part of your employee engagement activities as well, isn’t it? 

Traveling will help your team get to know each other. There will be personal bonds created during this activity because they would not have interacted this closely with each other earlier. 

Employee Appreciation Day

Here’s a hat tip- do not have a one-day trip. In that case, everyone will only be looking forward to completing the trip as soon as possible and crashing at their respective homes. 

A trip with your employees is an awesome opportunity to bond with them. The day should end with each of the employees knowing that they are appreciated for their contributions, and given that it is Employee Appreciation Day, there could be nothing better. 

2. Wellness programs

We never really understood the importance of mental health until we began to find that our faculties aren’t as sharp anymore because of stress. A new mother might find it difficult to leave her baby at home to concentrate on work, it might lead to stress. A person tending to his or her sick parents will obviously be in a less-than-ideal position to give their best for work. It is during times like this when you can show how much you really care about your employees.

Will they receive a rap in the knuckles for not giving their 100% or would you understand their predicament and act with empathy?

If you are an employer who cares about employee satisfaction and their mental health, it will be wise on your part to help them by incorporating wellness programs for them. 

How about bringing in yoga instructors to the office every day? It will help your employees let go of the stress they keep accumulating at work. You could start it on a pilot basis for the Employee Appreciation Day, and based on the feedback, you can make it a regular affair.

Offer each of your employees a fitness tracker and encourage them to use it everyday to count their steps or track their sleep. Even for those who are completely out of touch with their fitness goals will find it encouraging to add good fitness habits. 

The power of meditation can never be discounted, isn’t it? Thankfully, there are apps like Calm and Headspace, but how many of us are utilizing it to the fullest. When you do it as a group activity, there is more accountability.

In fact, we will go out on a limb and say that adding wellness programs for the sake of your employees as a part of your employee recognition activities is the best thing you can ever do.

3. Engage in fun team-building activities

You are never too old to play Chinese Whisper, isn’t it? Not only does it teach us the importance of proper communication, but it can lighten the mood of the entire room. 

There are a lot of fun building activities that you can think of for Employee Appreciation Day. Ensure that it is a cross-departmental activity because there is hardly any opportunity for people from other departments to interact with each other. Go the extra mile when it comes to organizing such activities. Remember that you are doing it for employee engagement, but also end up creating a wave of employee satisfaction. 

4. Offer gift cards

Does a few hundred dollar gift card from Amazon say ‘We love you and appreciate you’ excite you? 

Absolutely not. 

Make it more personal to stand out. If someone loves massages, then get them gift cards from the best spa in town. If an employee loves having pets, get them a gift card from the local pet store. You get the drift, right?

People have different things that they like. While an Amazon gift card is a perfectly acceptable way to make an employee feel appreciated, does it have the pizzazz to charm them? No. But a gift card from their favorite thrift store will have so much more appeal. They will brag about this to their friends and family. Why? Because you cared enough to find out what they liked the most and delivered exactly that. 

Also, gift cards are flexible, cost-effective and will establish a trophy-value. It creates a lasting reminder of how you made your employees good on Employee Appreciation Day. Gift cards are more effective than cash awards too. How? Let’s say you give your employee $100, what will they do? They are more likely to spend it on their groceries or any other immediate needs. But a gift card of the same value from a store they love or aspire to be a customer of will be something memorable for them, isn’t it?

5. Volunteering activity

Want to do an activity which forges bonds between team members, encourages team-building, helps the community and still be counted as a win for Employee Appreciation Day?

Here’s the answer- Volunteering.

While it may sound like a lot of work, once your employees are done with the day, they will feel extremely grateful to have been a part of it. 

Here are a few volunteering ideas:

  1. Clean up a public space. Get the required permission from the authorities before you embark on this exercise. From cleaning a part of the beach or your local park, anything you do to make a public space better will find support from all quarters, and more importantly, make your employees feel great about themselves.
  2. Share the unique skills or expertise that you have with those who require such help. A little bit of motivation and encouragement from your employees might end up changing the life of a few.
  3. Want to do a volunteering activity that literally saves lives? Donate blood.
  4. Partner with a homeless shelter and find out ways to help the people housed there. 

There are so many more ideas that you can use as a part of your volunteering, but for starters, you can use these and see how your employees are accepting it. While you can make a volunteering activity as a part of Employee Appreciation Day, it would be wise of you to give them a day off after this. 

6. Company Swag

Gifting your employees with company swag will never go out of fashion. Do not be surprised if they share the pictures of the swag on their social media handles, because that’s how excited they will be. It will remain with them even after they leave your organization. There are a lot of fun swag ideas, but before we get on that bandwagon, make it a point to ask your employees if they have anything in mind.

If they are looking to have copper water bottles that’ll have the company’s insignia, then make it happen. They’ll love you for it and it will create a sense of loyalty for them. Not only will they feel appreciated, they are more likely to share the swag with their family and friends too. 

Here are some of the most popular company swag items:

  1. Tech accessories
  2. Fitness tracker
  3. Eco-friendly products
  4. Wireless chargers
  5. T-shirts
  6. Jacket
  7. Custom Lego
  8. Desk plants
  9. Home accessories

There are many more options to make Employee Appreciation Day feel as a day of appreciation. With the right company swag, your employees will get a lot of bragging rights. 

7. Words of encouragement

When was the last time your boss wrote something nice about your work? 

‘Good work’ or ‘Keep it up’ doesn’t count. Those are hardly a few syllables. 

If you want to make your employees feel appreciated, then do it right. Employee Appreciation Day or not, you need to know how exactly to make them feel as if their contributions are valued, appreciated and required. 

How to write letters of appreciation:

Make the message as personal as possible. It should be individualized to the employee who is receiving it. Specify what exactly they did which warrants such appreciation. If you want to explain their contribution in graphic detail, then do that. These are the kind of employee rewards that one would love to receive. 

While sending it personally to the employee is great, why not go a step ahead and pass the appreciation write-up to the particular employee’s team members, direct reports, bosses, and so on. 

While we should explicitly state that this activity should not be something specially for Employee Appreciation Day alone, but be made a regular activity and should be ingrained in your company’s culture. 

8. Treat them to a catered lunch:

Nothing says ‘You are appreciated,’ like good food. 

Why not give the entire day off for your employees, but while inviting them for a catered lunch with live music and entertainers? How does that sound as a way to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

Celebrate all the hard work that your employees have done over the past by treating them to a scrumptious meal prepared by some of the best chefs in the town. 

Use the luncheon to share stories, ask questions about each other, learn interesting pieces of information about everyone, ask them about their goals and so on. If you could value these discussions as a business owner by helping someone achieve any of their goals or if you could connect them to a business acquaintance of theirs for something, then do that. 

It will lead to such a nice camaraderie and friendship that you will want to make this a monthly affair, or at least quarterly. Use the Employee Appreciation Day to find the lighter side of everyone. Your employees will be the one appreciating you for this initiative. 

The lunch can be followed by fun activities which will allow more people to open up and interact with each other. 

Note: Paste ‘No work discussions here’ at every possible spot. You don’t want people to talk about work when they are trying to feel relaxed, isn’t it? 

9. Game day

If you do not have a variety of ideas on what to do on Employee Appreciation Day, there is an easy out for you. 

Play games.

While it is a ridiculously simple solution, it is equally effective and no one is going to complain. Instead, they will thank you over and over for this. 

Here are some of the fun games that you can play with everyone in the office:

  1. The complement each other game: In this game, divide your employees into different groups. Ask each of them to compliment everyone else in the group. The compliment should be about their personality, who they are as a person, their work ethic, character, or even the way they carry themselves in the office. It will not only act as an ice breaker, but it will make the one who receives the compliment happy. 
  2. Create a game where you give a scenario to each team. The scenario is usually a less-than-desirable situation from where the team should find a way to escape unscathed. They can either use imaginary resources or talk their way out of it by providing valid reasons.
  3. Pictionary.
  4. Jenga. No, not the normal ones. There are big ones that will be up to five feet when stacked up. 
  5. What about a cooking competition? That will not only wake up the competitive spirit in everyone, you will also end up eating delicious meals after the entire exercise.
  6. Plan an office scavenger hunt. 

These are just a few ideas. You can always come up with more interesting ones that are suited to your style. 

10. Unique employee awards

If your idea of Employee Appreciation Day is only to announce the employee of the month award, then you have a lot of work to do to make the day really special. Sure, you can give away awards, but why not make it truly unique.

Instead of handing out one award, give away awards that are quirky, but still hold meaning. Here are some sampler ideas for you. ‘Wordsmith of the company,’ ‘Marketing Whiz’, etc. 

Find different ways to reward them. It doesn’t even have to be expensive, all you need to do is to make it as creative as possible. The entire event should be something that they don’t forget for a long time. If possible, ask your employees themselves to nominate their colleagues and arrange this event. Even the ones who do not get any award will not feel bad because they have been able to participate in it. 

Making every day an Employee Appreciation Day

As cliche as this may sound, it is entirely possible to make employees feel that celebrating Employee Appreciation Day is not for optics here. 

How do you do that? By creating an employee recognition program. In an employee recognition program, there will be ample effort put on finding every contribution that the employees make. 

When your employees know that they are being watched, not to find out their mistakes, but to unearth every opportunity to celebrate them, you will find that the workplace changes’ overall atmosphere. 

An employee recognition program helps your employees stay focused, appreciated and motivated because of the recognition. It alters the way they look at work and their colleagues. Everyone will get even more competitive, but it will not come at the cost of camaraderie, instead, in this scenario, everyone will be pushing each other up. 

Wrapping it up..

Do not take Employee Appreciation Day lightly, come up with a good plan and implement it by using all the resources at your disposal. For attaining employee satisfaction, make sure there is no stone unturned when it comes to doing something for them. Send employee surveys to understand if they have an idea already in mind on how to celebrate the day. If yes, then convene a set of interested employees for a meeting through the help of online surveys. You can use a tool like SurveySparrow to send your employee surveys to understand what kind of recognitions and rewards they like. 

The cornerstone of a great workplace is appreciating one’s employees at every turn. You don’t have to spend a bomb to show your employees that you appreciate them, there are a lot of things that you can do to make them feel valued. Keeping your employees happy will always work to your favor. 

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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